MOST PROFITABLE MAGAZINE GOES DIGITAL
29th January, 2014
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It's one of the few true stalwarts of the magazine industry, having weathered many economic and technological storms over the last 90 years. Being at one point the most circulated magazine in Europe, it is still going strong and said to be one of the most profitable magazines in the UK. Which magazine am I talking about? Why, it's the Radio Times of course!
By Zafar Jamati
The main offering is simple; it's a programme guide for weekly television and radio listings. Merged from the BBC's magazine division to Immediate Media (IM) in 2011, The Radio Times accounts for 60% of IM's large portfolio of 56 titles - generating £26.5m of profit in 2013.
The magazine isn't resting on its laurels though, having recently launched a digital offering for tablet and smartphone users. Don't let this fool you into thinking that the magazine is following the mass trend of chasing the younger audience.
With the average print reader being 57 years old, the publisher is very specific about its market.
"It is the jewel in the crown, a phenomenally robust brand that everyone knows and we can move that into digital services targeting the late 20s and 40s" says Tom Bureau, chief executive of Immediate Media. "We're not focusing on 16-24s - we think that's where social TV apps and those services are focusing their attention. We need to be laser-targeted."
It may seem surprising that a magazine that merely aggregates publically available TV and radio programme information can be so popular. But it is this very lucrative niche which explains their success.
With the overload of information available to us it would take many days to filter through and find out exactly what you want to watch. It's convenient then for someone to tell you exactly what you may like.
In addition to programme listings, the magazine writes editorial content offering analysis and reviews of upcoming shows. This differentiation of providing compelling content has historically given the Radio Times a sought after offering, making it difficult to replicate by competitors.
This new drive towards a specific segment within the digital sector shows just how apt the magazine is at adapting to change. Having already braced the advent of television and the Internet, the mobile market is just another challenge it's ready to face head on.
The downloadable app utilises the "freemium" model, where users can download a stripped down version for free, and unlock premium services and content for £3 a month.
So what do you think? Will Radio Times be around for another century? Tell us what you think below, in the comments.